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'Theodore Roosevelt' coming to Kenmare Aug. 5

Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge staff are pleased to announce that a very special guest will be joining the Greenwing Day event Aug. 5 in Kenmare.

7/25/17 (Tue)

Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge staff are pleased to announce that a very special guest will be joining the Greenwing Day event Aug. 5 in Kenmare.

Joe Wiegand, aka Theodore Roosevelt, will be the honored guest and will participate in the day’s activities that will be held at the boat docks area of the refuge beginning at about 9 a.m.

Wiegand said he will do some speaking while in Kenmare, but will also mingle with the people attending Greenwing Day. After all, that’s exactly what Roosevelt would have done.

Because Roosevelt had so many nicknames, Wiegand was asked if Greenwing Day participants should call him Joe, Mr. President or TR?

When he’s with an audience he asks everyone to call him colonel as that is what his friends called him in his day. Roosevelt, who was a National Guard captain, was elevated to the rank of colonel while fighting in Cuba during the Spanish-American War in 1898.

Instead of a “splendid little war,” as Roosevelt called the crisis in Cuba, Wiegand hopes for willing participants during his Kenmare whistle stop.

“I will do two or three formal public appearances,” he said. “Outside of those presentations, I will visit and meet and greet, much like a magic show.”

In addition, he said kids love to find out how the teddy bear got its name and he expects he will talk about that.

“What would TR tell these people,” he said? “I shall do just that.”

According to Wiegand, it’s important to portray Roosevelt’s character to the letter including a stop watch in his pocket, his motions and his mustache. It includes mixing with the crowd.

Wiegand believes he’s well versed on Roosevelt and politics in the United States during Roosevelt’s presidency from 1901-1908.

“He was such a polyglot expert in so many fields,” Wiegand said. “My challenge is in understanding birds, which is what I’ll need when I’m in Kenmare. But I have some information and I’ve listened to many of the bird calls at Cornell University.”

But Roosevelt did a lot more than establish the national park service and game preserves, according to Wiegand. He was a strong proponent of preservation and improvements of our national resources.

As an example, Wiegand said Roosevelt helped establish royalties for those who irrigated their properties. In turn, the royalties were used to improve irrigation efficiency in the United States.

“It’s an interesting lens to look through,” Wiegand said of Roosevelt. “It’s all part of history and the life of this great man.”

There’s no doubt Roosevelt led an interesting life and Wiegand keeps that history alive with his portrayal of the 26th president.

From his cowboy days in Dakota Territory, to the war, to becoming president when William McKinley was assassinated in 1901, to forming his own political party in 1912 to his weekly newspaper column in the Kansas City Star, he always had an electrifying personality.

Wiegand, who is a political science major, got his start in Illinois state politics. He managed gubernatorial and presidential campaigns during the height of his political career.

His live performances are often featured at hundreds of historic places associated with Roosevelt’s life and legacy including Roosevelt’s childhood home as well as Washington, D.C.

Today Wiegand performs in all 50 states and internationally. He has been featured on TV and in film and is featured every summer in Medora.

He says the highlight of his TR career has been a performance at the White House for President George W. Bush and his wife Laura on the anniversary of Roosevelt’s 150th birthday in 2008.

“I’m looking forward to working with the staff at Des Lacs (National Wildlife Refuge),” he said. “We think Roosevelt is remembered for the national parks, but the refuges and bird sanctuaries were a large part of what he did.”

Refuge Manager Chad Zorn said it was fitting to get Wiegand, who he expects will speak about conservation, since he popularized the early conservation movement in the United States.

“He was the father of six children and the author of more than 30 books,” Zorn said. “He was a big game hunter, a leading ornithologist and the founder of Boone & Crockett, the nation’s first fair hunting and conservation organization. During his presidency he declared some 230 million acres of national parks, national forests, wildlife refuges and national monuments. He was indeed, the great conservation president.”

According to Zorn, a larger than average group is expected so he is encouraging groups to pre-register for Greenwing Day. See the ad on page 2 of this edition.

Wiegand is hoping for an enthusiastic crowd and used a Roosevelt analogy to express his point.

“I hope the people will be more enthusiastic than their citizenship,” he said of Roosevelt. “If a man asks you, ‘can you do a job,’ say ‘yes’ and then figure out how to get the job done.”

Wiegand touched on a number of additional topics including the need for local newspapers in the day of the Internet, the establishment of Sullys Hill near Devils Lake as one of Roosevelt’s signature parks and Roosevelt’s continued patriotism after his presidency.

In addition, he talked about Minot man Austin Artz, who portrays Roosevelt’s youngest son Quentin, who was shot down over France on July 14, 1918.

He and Artz are good friends and sometimes perform together.

Wiegand, who lives in Colorado Springs, Colo., spends a lot of time in Medora and makes numerous appearances there and elsewhere every summer.

His tour is sponsored in part by the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation and is making 32 appearances in Medora this season and 42 appearances elsewhere in North Dakota, as well as numerous other places nationwide.

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